It seems the Air Force is sticking with the A-10 Thunderbolt, AKA Warthog, for the immediate future.
Strategists predicted that the Air Force would be moving away from the slower, brutish A-10 in favor of the high-tech can-do-it-all F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. But the Air Force has put that rumor to rest as they have confirmed they’re keeping the A-10 in service “indefinitely.”
[Scroll Down For Video]
Air Force Materiel Command chief Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski told Aviation Week their plans on keeping the A-10. “They have re-geared up, we’ve turned on the depot line, we’re building it back up in capacity and supply chain.” The general added, “Our command, anyway, is approaching this as another airplane that we are sustaining indefinitely.”
While product planners and pilots may want to opt for the state of the art F-35, the general plans on keeping the A-10, which is still an effective aircraft, in peak condition. The reasoning behind keeping the A-10 in tip-top shape is simple; it proves effective, time and time again.
Their plans seem to be working as the A-10 posted a five percent increase in its availability rate from 2014 to 2015, seemingly rescuing the A-10 from the scrap yard. Soldiers can attest that if you’re a ground unit, there is nothing more satisfying that hearing that BRRTTT the A-10’s front cannon makes.
The F-35, on the other hand, is by all accounts amazing. It can take on jets in the sky, make long-range bombing runs and come in low to support ground troops.
These skills would be useful in numerous ways, but it has yet to be tested in those combat scenarios.
On paper, the A-10 is reportedly slated to be taken out of commission in the fiscal year of 2018 and in its final resting location in the boneyards by 2020. Secretary Deborah Lee James seemingly has other plans for the “tank killer” telling AviationWeek they’re “considering keeping the jets in inventory longer than planned.”
By all reports, we can expect a few more BRRTTT and a few more tanks to be decimated before this ole bird has its last day in the sky.